An unconventional way of evaluating elementary school students has been implemented in Surrey and Maple Ridge school districts as part of a pilot project.
Students in grades 4 to 7 at 30 Surrey schools and 20 Maple Ridge schools will not be receiving letter grades at the end of the school year this spring. In the place of letter grades, students and their parents will receive detailed feedback that outline the child’s strengths and weaknesses.
There will also be greater face-to-face meetings between teachers and parents, in addition to methods such as emailing work samples, photos and videos. An option also allows for some students to be assessed by the categories of “exceeding”, “meeting” or “not yet meeting”.
The new grading system is being implemented by the school districts and not the provincial Ministry of Education, and the Vancouver School Board could follow suit pending the release of the Surrey/Maple Ridge pilot project results in the summer.
However, is this mushy, feel-good system a better alternative to the grading evaluation system as union-friendly school district proponents claim?
Although it is not a perfect system, grades have always been a quantifiable measure of success and performance. With regular meetings and emails parent-teacher communication on the performance of students has never been easier. Parents and students have always been able to discuss with teachers the reasons for the grades received and steps for improvement.
Grades also provide students with motivation to keep up and improve, in addition to helping children transition into the reality of living in a highly competitive world where quantifiable measures of performance are key for social and economic mobility.
The current alternative being implemented will not prepare these students for high-school and post-secondary education. Removing letter grades also removes a long-running objective system that holds teachers accountable for their students’ performance – something that the B.C. teachers’ union has dreamt of doing.
The last time this system was widely attempted was during Mike Harcourt’s NDP-led provincial government during the early-1990s. Ultimately, it failed and was abolished after a few years.
What are your thoughts on eliminating letter grades from report cards for students in grades 4 to 7? Let us know by commenting below.
Featured Image: Grade Box via Shutterstock